Getting Your Members Involved


Most of the time, people just want to come along and taste the wine, and perhaps listen to the presenter. Maybe, though, they would enjoy themselves even more if they if they could get more involved.

Rating the Wines

You can ask for a simple rating on the wines on offer in the evening by show of hands. Whatever system you use, you will probably find that you get more useful results if you ask the tasters to ignore the price of the wine.

Some clubs just ask for members to vote for their favourite wine or wines of the tasting by a simple show of hands. The next stage up is to use a five or seven point marking system – ranking each wine undrinkable, poor, average, good or excellent, say. Get people to raise their hands once for each wine and guess what the average score is. Really professional groups might mark colour, aroma, taste and finish separately, using a twenty or hundred point scale – you will need written results and a calculator to sort those out.

Wine of the Year

Once you have found a wine of the evening, you might want to go further. Some clubs have a meeting once a year to taste all these top wines again, and award a wine of the year. Your local newspaper might be interested. At least the results might give you an idea of what you should serve with your Annual Dinner, and what types of wine would interest your members for future events.

Bring a Bottle

Ask some (or all, if you are very thirsty) of your members to bring a favourite wine. Many clubs find that this works best if you set a tight price band, or announce a fairly strong theme. You can ask each person research and introduce the wine that they have brought, or serve all the wines blind and find out what everyone makes of them. This can be great fun.

If you can get members used to presenting a single wine, there is less of a jump to getting them to source and present a full event.

Tasting Courses

Of course, people will claim ignorance as a reason for not getting involved. The answer to this is to hold a course, or encourage members to attend a local one. Many colleges and other bodies have evening classes leading to the Wine & Spirit Education Trust certificates, and there is likely to be someone qualified as a Wine Educator in your area. Try


 Full-scale Blind Tastings might be a bit off-putting, although you can always give clues, and use ‘obvious’ wines to give beginners confidence. Try giving just two possibilities for each wine, or play ‘Call My Bluff’, based on the TV quiz show. Wines are shown blind. Three descriptions of each wine are read out, with name, grape, country and tasting notes. Only one of these descriptions is correct – the audience have to guess which one. Again, you can set the differences between the descriptions at a level to suit your membership.

Another way to improve skills and confidence is the ‘Three Glasses’ game. Put one wine into two of the glasses, and a different wine into the third one, and get people to pick out which is the odd one out. The closer the wines are in style, the harder it gets, and people will be forced to look for subtle cues.